Top Ten Tuesday— Top Ten Favorite Heroines

Time for Top Ten Tuesday– a weekly feature/meme over at my other blog, The Broke and the Bookish!

This week is about Top Ten Favorite Heroines in literature. I only named five–for reasons I’ll discuss after I list my top five.

1. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: What an endearing heroine! She is by far my favorite. She is intelligent, playful and is not afraid to go against the mainstream way of thinking–even if it means offending her family by not marrying a certain fellow.

2. Jo March from Little Women:  How can you not love Jo? She certainly marched to a different tune. I loved her because she has strong mind and is independent. She, like Elizabeth Bennet, chooses to sometimes go against what society would have of her. I like that she trounced  upon the model of what a woman should look like and what she should do.

3. Lisbeth from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo: She’s just kickass in the way she saves the day! She is smart and different and I just love her. I don’t want to give too much away about her.

4. Matilda: What a precocious little girl and a charming little heroine! I also love her passion for books! She’s clever and stands up to the adults!

5. Katniss from The Hunger Games: Katniss is a kickass heroine if there ever was one! She fights hard and does the right thing! She is kind and selfless. She certainly has street smarts!

I realized two things that explain why compiling this list was so hard for me:

1. I do not read many books with strong female characters. This will change.

2. I also struggled with the question of what a heroine actually IS and how broad the definition can be. I think that the classic heroine and the modern heroine are different in some respect. I think the classic heroine wasn’t always facing some big evil entity but sometimes it could have been some weakness, like hubris, that they overcame. This isn’t saying that they didn’t face danger but I feel like this model is seen frequently in modern novels–in fantasy in particular. I think that Elizabeth and Jo are different types of characters than Katniss or Lisbeth but I think that they all display the same sort of characteristics–self sacrifice, intelligence, confidence, a will of their own, the desire for what is right, honor, etc. I think the modern heroine evolved from the classic heroine and may have the same basic characteristics but I do find them to be different.

What do you think a hero/heroine is? What characteristics should they embody? Do you think I’m wrong in thinking that the classic heroine and the modern heroine are different?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Melissa (My words and pages) says:

    This is a great list. I have to say I know three of the characters and they are great ones. Matilda is great for children. The humor in her actions. 🙂 And Jo is a great character. She really is a strong "real" character to look up to. Katniss is just amazing!

  2. I think classic heroines and modern heroines are different- modern heroines don't have as many social constraints to deal with. A classic heroine is often headstrong because she denies marriage as her ideal, or won't let her family dictate who she marries or what she does. Modern heroines are more of the crime-fighting, literally kicking ass variety.

  3. Jane Doe– Good point! They really don't have those type of constraints to deal with like the classic heroines did.

  4. Katnissn and Elizabeth made my list as well! And Jo and Matilda should have 🙂

  5. I do think you're right in that classic and modern heroines face quite different obstacles (which even in modern literature vary depending on the genre – fantasy's quite different from realistic fiction), but that some of the essential personality traits and characteristics we admire remain the same (eg. courage, honesty, etc.) Nice observation!

  6. When I compiled my list, I chose my heroines based on 1) strength of character, and 2) a compulsion to read and be engulfed in their story. I felt that these traits, regardless of how likeable the character is overall, are what really makes a heroine. Which is why I chose a couple 'non-traditional' heroines, who may not have been completely likeable and may not have made what I may feel as all the right decisions.

  7. You did better than me! I also thought of Lisbeth from Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Then I realized that I've only seen the movie. Same thing with Hermione, except in her case I realized that not only had I not read any of the books, but I'm not even that much of a fan of the movies.

    I agree with Jane Doe about the huge differences in the obstacle facing the modern heroine vs. the classic.

  8. Ohh Matilda…Great pick! That's another one of those books I haven't picked up in years– must run off now and dig up my copy!

  9. Anne Bennett says:

    I think Lisbeth is such a tortured soul, but she seems to end up on the right side of things. I also had Elizabeth Bennet, Jo March and Katniss.

  10. Kayla + Cyna says:

    Nice list! Lizzie made mine, as well. I also had a hard time filling out five picks (most heroines in PR blend together). I ust interpreted 'heroine' to mean a story's (female) protagonist, but you bring up a good point. But I think a (female) protagonist who overcomes an obstacle, especially while possessing the admirable qualities that you mentioned, could be considered a heroine. 🙂 The big issues women face change with the times, but like you said, most qualities stay the same.

  11. I had a hard time coming up with a list. Women in books often struggle with being strong, especially in books I read while I was growing up. I'm happy to see more strong women out there.

  12. Emilyandherlittlepinknotes says:

    Surprisingly I read four book out of five and I love your pics. Jo March would be my favorite on that list, I consider Lisbeth an exceptional literary achievement, , I don’t know if Larsson himself was aware of what he did but Lisbeth is one of those characters that surpasses writer and plot.
    I think Katsa from Graceling belongs in my list and Lyra (northern lights trilogy by Phulmann).
    And let's not forget Kate Daniels (Kate Daniels' series by Ilona Andrews), she rocks!